Cover Image: The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

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Margaret Lennox is recently widowed and impoverished, so she takes a position as governess in an isolated house that she quickly learns has a reputation for being haunted. Margaret doesn't have many choices left to her, so though her new employer is sometimes a bit odd and she sometimes hears and sees strange things, she adjusts to her new life and quickly comes to love her new pupil, young Louis, who is curious and eager to learn. However, the house and its inhabitants aren't the only ones with secrets, and when a housemaid starts to blackmail her and she begins to fall for the young gardener, Margaret has to decide where her loyalties and desires really lie and whether she really wants to know what secrets Hartwood Hall holds.

I love a gothic novel and this one did not disappoint. The weird noises and half-seen figures give the right atmosphere and the characters are interesting and mysterious, just how I like it! Unlike some gothics, this one explains what is actually going on by the end, revealing the secrets and motives behind both Margaret and the other character's actions in a way that is satisfying and reasonable. The ending was a little unexpected, but in an entirely good way - the reveal of what was actually going on was not what I expected it to be, so as the reader I only figured out what was going on just a pinch before Margaret did. I really liked this one, and I hope to see more from Lumsden in the future - especially if it is more historical gothic mystery!

Thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for the chance to read The Secrets of Hartwood Hall early in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you for the early copy of this title! 

I was intrigued from the start of this story - I knew that there was more to it than I found myself trying to guess and was pleasantly surprised as the story started to unfold page after page.  

The story itself was a bit slower paced than I normally prefer and I wanted our heroine to have a stiffer spine in regards to a few things but otherwise enjoyed the story! 

Thank you!
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So I am not sure how to feel about this. I was definitely surprised by why the east wing was forbidden and it absolutely gave Jane Erye vibes. However I just really couldn't connect to Margret we don't really get to know her beyond the fact that she is a widow and happy to be. Everyone has secrets or keeping secrets and while it adds to the mysterious Gothic vibe of the book it just kind of felt annoying to me. I don't really read mystery books and I guess this is why but if you're looking for a gothic mystery I would recommend
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This book absolutely drew me in from moment one. I loved the Brontë vibe with the gothic manor, crumbling, off limits East wing, and characters with mysterious pasts. The book had so much promise, but honestly when the secrets were revealed I was underwhelmed and frustrated with the direction in which it concluded. I also felt like the relationship development between two of the characters did not at all resolve in a natural way. Many thanks to the publisher for granting me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Favorite character: Margaret
Three words: mysterious / spooky / slow
Favorite quote: "Why do you like Frankenstein?" "I like monsters."

After her husband died, leaving her without an inheritance, the young widow Margaret has no choice but to start working as a governess again. It's the 1852s and with only one working ear and only recommendations from families from a few years ago, it's not easy to find a new job, but she is lucky. Margaret gets employed as a governess for an only child in the west of England.
When she arrives at her new home and workplace, she realizes how isolated the Hartwood Hall estate is and how unusual its residents are. But Maraget needs the job and she is very fond of the little boy Louis that she has to take care of, so she ignores the rumors about ghost and the dismissive town folks.
The longer she stays at Hartwood Hall, the more mysterious incidents happen. Unknown figures lurk in the dark, candles burn in the abandoned east wing and supplies have disappeared. The owner of the household and Louis' mother, a widow herself, is unusually anxious and worried about her child, but travels a lot, leaving him behind.
Margaret begins to distract herself with the estate's gardener, Paul, trying to forget all the weird things that are happening, but a forbidden romance would jeopardize the job she desperately needs.
As her past threatens to be exposed, the secrets of Hartwood Hall begin to unravel too.

When the main character Margaret arrives in Hartwood Hall, she is confronted with many strange behaviors and mysterious occurrences. Why is the whole east wing closed for everyone? Why do the villagers distrust the residents of Hartwood Hall? Why are there only a few servants? Why are there so many stories about ghosts? The questions continue to increase as the book progresses and you witness how Margaret tries to remain rational, but slowly begins to question her senses and the people around her. Not even the child's hair color seems to be real. I loved how the questioned reality played together with the old and creepy estate. Hartwood Hall with its locked rooms, creaky floors and dark hallways is the perfect environment to believe in ghosts, the author has created the perfect setting for a gothic story.
I really liked the cast of characters! An unapproachable widow who bought a too big, sealed-off estate, a little clever boy who hates secrets, sneaky house staff and a main character with guilt who wants to start a new life.
What I didn't like was the pacing. It was too slow for most of the book and the ending was too abrupt and short for my liking. The other thing is, that in some situations Margaret acted way too naive and obviously stupid. I wanted to shake her and ask what she was thinking more than once.
All in all, while the book wasn't perfect, it was a great debut novel and I would definitely read more from the author.
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The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is a spooky gothic mystery, complete with ghosts, suspicious deaths and unsettling characters.

Margaret Lennox is a recent widow, whose husband disinherited her and left his money to his mother. She decides to go back to being a governess, which she had enjoyed before her marriage. She takes a position at Hartwood Hall, taking care of 10-year-old Louis Eversham. Mrs. Eversham is very protective of her son, to the point he hasn't left the grounds of their mansion in years. The nearby town believes the Hall is haunted and its inhabitants are crazy. But Margaret needs the position, and doesn't believe in ghosts.

However, she often sees something out of the corner of her eye. The house has a whole wing that is closed up, but she hears sounds coming from there. Is there some truth to the stories about Hartwood Hall?

I didn't love this book. It closely follows the Victorian gothic formula, and maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this type of book, but it never really captured my interest. I found myself putting it down and reading other things instead. But if you're in the mood for a modern book that celebrates the classic Gothic mystery, you will enjoy this book.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.
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This was a gothic masterpiece. I fell in love with the mystery and womanhood built into this story in all its beautiful forms. The feeling is very Crimson Peak meets Jane Eyre (ha cause it’s read by Louis in the book) with all the gloriously dark Victorian manor haunted by something unknown but so very real.
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The starts out as a Jane Eyre-esque book, complete with noises and a wing (not attic) that's off-limits.  Add in some <i>Mill on the Floss</i> marriage vibes and a little <i>Turn of the Screw</i> for flavor and, well... you've got this book.  Luckily, the pacing is a lot faster than in those influences. However, the pacing is still a bit of a problem: all the real action happens very quickly, at the end of the book.  It also doesn't read as belonging to the time it's supposed to be set in; rather it feels as though some of the descriptions are tossed in to remind us of when instead of being part of the actual book.

eARC provided by publisher via Netgalley.
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A fresh take on a classic gothic mystery with a powerful, feminist ending. A very enjoyable read and easy to recommend to almost any mystery or suspense fan.
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An isolated estate in the English countryside is the setting for this atmospheric mystery. Margaret, a widow with limited options, becomes a governess to Louis, an only child. It quickly becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and Margaret finds herself at the center of an ominous mystery that tests her very sanity. This gothic Victorian will appeal to fans of classics such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca.
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Unfortunately I had to DNF this book. It just was not for me. It sounded so promising and I think the premise was great but the execution just fell short. Thank you so much for allowing me to read this book.
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Thank you to the author and publisher for the advance reader copy. 

I  really enjoyed this book! It was essentially my first gothic novel and most definitely won't be my last. A phenomenal debut novel.
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Atmospheric and Suspenseful! I was hooked on this novel from start to finish.

Margaret Lennox is a new governess who arrives at Hartwood Hall to broaden the mind of young Louis. She is a young widow looking for solace and a fresh start. She is soon confronted by old rumors that continue to swirl about a curse and ghosts that are said to permeate the stately grounds. These dark beliefs are both harbored by nearby villagers and some of the staff who work and reside on the premises.

Margaret doesn’t scare off easily, having many haunted thoughts and memories of her own past to grapple with . . . and buying into village gossip is silly to consider for an educated mind. Still, there are nagging things that begin to pile up, strange occurrences in and around the manor that can’t always be easily explained away.

This story definitely has eerie Jane Eyre vibes and you may think you have this Victorian-era mystery all figured out. Trust me, you don’t. If you are a fan of the classics . . . I highly recommend adding this gothic mystery to your collection ASAP!

I'd like to thank NetGalley for an advanced copy of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall for my unbiased evaluation.  5 stars
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Thank you so much to Penguin Group Dutton for this ARC!

This was a good Victorian, Gothic historical fiction tale! Although it was incredibly predictable, I enjoyed the overall atmosphere and writing. I will say that the predictability made the plot move slowly for the story’s first half. I also felt the mystery and spooky/scary/creepy vibes could have been significantly heightened. I wanted something that scared me, that kept me up at night, but it overall felt kind of...mild? For as eerie as it tried to be, it could have been that and more. It felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities to make this spookier and heighten its Gothic elements. 

Overall, a solid read. And it could just be the mystery/thriller reader in me that wanted those specific spooky elements in the story to be heightened more. I think avid readers of historical fiction and Victorian literature will really enjoy this one!
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"A gripping and atmospheric debut that is at once a chilling Gothic mystery and a love letter to Victorian fiction.

Nobody ever goes to Hartwood Hall. Folks say it’s cursed...

It;s 1852 and Margaret Lennox, a young widow, attempts to escape the shadows of her past by taking a position as governess to an only child, Louis, at an isolated country house in the west of England.

But Margaret soon starts to feel that something isn't quite right. There are strange figures in the dark, tensions between servants, and an abandoned east wing. Even stranger is the local gossip surrounding Mrs. Eversham, Louis's widowed mother, who is deeply distrusted in the village.

Lonely and unsure whom to trust, Margaret finds distraction in a forbidden relationship with the gardener, Paul. But as Margaret's history threatens to catch up with her, it isn't long before she learns the truth behind the secrets of Hartwood Hall."

Oh, so Gothic! A widow turned governess, a secret affair, an abandoned win, yes yes yes!
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I loved it! Reminded me of the Victoria Holt books that I devoured when I was a kid. Can't wait to read more by this author.
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The Secrets of Hardwood Hall is an atmospheric gothic mystery.  A recently widowed governess flees her current home in order to return to her previous line of work.  The circumstances behind her husband's death are foggy and it is clear that there is some guilt felt by his passing.  Margaret Lennox starts again at a remote stately home that is shrouded in some mystery.  Part of the hall is off limits and the staff is small.  Margaret soon falls in love with her young charge, Louis, and gets to know her mistress as well as the other staff.  There is romance thrown in but the main focus is Margaret's own history and the mysterious past of her employer.  Very much in the vein of Jane Eyre and a good effort in that manner.  I enjoyed it!
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This reminded me so much of Crimson Peak! A Victorian lady moving to a mysterious manor that all the villages are scared of and claim is haunted, to become governess in a Victorian manor with strange rules and secrets. The people of Hartwood Hall are hiding something, but what? 

This was the first book I’ve read in a long time that takes place in the Victorian era and I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in a different time period for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the time period and setting, but the first 70% of the book was kind of hard to get through because the plot moved so slowly. I loved living in the Victorian era for a little bit regardless, but plot wise, not much happens for the majority of the book. The big secret at the end was also super anticlimactic to me, not exactly the most original, and kind of had me like, that’s it? I was expecting something spooky and this wasn’t at all. 

If you’re a horror fan reading this for scares, this also probably isn’t what you’re looking for or be anything new for you. I was expecting something more intense and gripping than this honestly, so if you’re looking for scares and an unputdownable read, this probably won’t be what you’re looking for. This wasn’t the most original book in the world either and I found it pretty predictable. But if you’re not necessarily a fan of spooky books but enjoy the aesthetic of the Victorian time period and want to get lost in a historical time period for a while, you’ll still enjoy this one. If you’re looking for Victorian era scares though, I recommend Laura Purcell’s books instead. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton for sending me and advanced copy in return for my honest review.
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The secret of Hartwood Hall is that everyone has a secret! Lumsden has created a masterful gothic suspense that had me hooked from page 1. Mystery on top of mystery. A decaying mansion in the countryside that the villagers think is cursed, a lady of the house who leaves her sickly son for long periods, a governess who is running from someone or something and a wing of the house that no one is allowed to enter. Rest assured the secrets are all revealed in the end but what an enjoyable journey you take to get there. Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton for an early review copy.
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This has to be the BEST book I have read in a while!
East wing is forbidden at Hartwood Hall, but why?
Bumps in the night and dark figures lurk in the shadows...

Margaret is Louis governess at Hartwood - 10 year old Louis likes Frankenstein because he likes monsters.

Whilst I thought it would be a straight forward story of a governess, out in the country and doesn’t know anyone and possibly something bad was going to happen or she would fall in love with the master of the house, how wrong was I!? This book me on a journey of suspicious, love affairs, secrets death and then ending with a twist that even I didn’t see coming.

Fabulous book! I really hope Katie writes more books...

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton
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